In a significant effort to combat the diphtheria outbreak ravaging Nigeria’s Northeast and Northwest regions, the European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS has allocated the sum of one million euros (approximately N847 million).
This funding, aimed at curbing the spread of the disease and providing much-needed assistance to the affected communities, underscores the EU’s commitment to addressing epidemics and climate challenges in the region.
In a statement released by the EU Embassy in Abuja, it was revealed that the EU had committed to providing humanitarian aid totaling 34 million euros in June 2023, with a specific focus on battling epidemics like diphtheria.
This latest allocation of one million euros is in addition to the 150,000 euros previously provided to the Disaster Response Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in March 2023, aimed at controlling the epidemic.
The newly allocated funds will be instrumental in strengthening the response efforts in Nigeria. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the medical non-governmental organization, ALIMA, will receive support to bolster the capacity of frontline health agencies. This includes enhancing surveillance and case detection, providing treatment for confirmed cases, raising community awareness, and facilitating the procurement of vaccines.
The diphtheria outbreak in Nigeria has reached alarming proportions, with 10,322 confirmed cases and 16,616 suspected cases reported since the beginning of the year. Kano State has been particularly hard-hit, serving as the epicenter of the outbreak with 8,447 confirmed cases and 589 deaths. The states most affected by the outbreak are Kano, Yobe, Katsina, Borno, Bauchi, and Kaduna, collectively accounting for 96 percent of all suspected cases.
Children aged 1 to 14 years are the most vulnerable demographic, constituting 72 percent of all confirmed cases. Disturbingly, more than 60 percent of all suspected cases have not been vaccinated, highlighting the urgent need for intervention.
The funding allocated by the EU is part of the EU’s Epidemics tool, designed to provide rapid financial support in the event of disease outbreaks. Diphtheria, a highly contagious bacterial infection transmitted between humans, primarily affects the upper respiratory tract and can lead to severe breathing difficulties and suffocation.
The EU Embassy’s statement emphasized the EU’s role as the world’s leading donor of humanitarian aid, expressing European solidarity towards people in need globally. Their humanitarian assistance aims to save lives, alleviate human suffering, and uphold the dignity of populations affected by both natural disasters and man-made crises.
Through the Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Department, the EU consistently provides support to millions of victims of conflicts and disasters worldwide. This commitment is executed through its headquarters in Brussels and a vast global network of field offices, ensuring that vulnerable populations receive assistance based solely on their humanitarian needs.